Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Non-Profit Spotlight: Leslie-Lohman Museum

Art History is a key component of any community. The art is an archive of the state of the life and times of a civilized community. As early as 1969, co-founders Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman recognized the need for gay artists to have a platform. As the Gay Community was ravaged by the AIDS crisis of the 80s, so was the Art community. As gay men were dying their families were simply discarding the art left behind. Primarily because they either didn’t know what to do with the art or they didn’t want to acknowledge their loved one’s sexuality. By 1987 they created the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, Inc.

Charles W. Leslie, Director Emeritus and
J. Frederic (Fritz) Lohman (1922-2009)

Their mission: To exhibit and preserve art that speaks directly to the many aspects of the LGBTQ experience, and foster the artists who create it. We embrace the rich creative history of this community by educating, informing, inspiring, entertaining, and challenging all who enter our doors. – Leslie-Lohman

In May 2011, in recognition of the Foundation's work on collecting and exhibiting LGBTQ work, the New York State Board of Regents awarded a provisional charter of official museum status making it the first and only gay art museum in the world.

In December 2015, the New York State Board of Regents, at the Museum’s request, merged the Museum and the Foundation entities for all purposes and now operates solely under the name Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, a charitable entity exempt from taxation under section 501(c)3 of the IRS code.

In July 2016, The New York State Board of Regents issues official Museum Accreditation.

Currently in the throes of an expansion project, the museum will nearly double its space. In the meantime, the Exhibitions continue. I had the privilege of chatting with longtime Deputy Director for External Relations Jerry Kajpust on the way forward for the Museum. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

This is a very important place and space that Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman created for our community. Many are not aware of its longstanding existence. Starting an art gallery is in and of itself a labor of love. Couple that at time when being LGBT was illegal and considered a mental illness. In a few short years Leslie Lohman will be celebrating 50 years of preserving LGBT art and culture alongside the brave souls who stood tall at Stonewall. They have certainly shown us how to stand in the face of adversity.

Tell us more about the early days of the gallery.

In 1969, Charles and Fritz held their first exhibit of art in their home. Their mission has always been to supply space for gay artists to show and sell their work. They were groundbreaking in that whole area which is amazing. The simple act of showcasing “illegal” art was itself a revolution.

How are you planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary?

We’re starting work on a foundation history with one of the board members and we may do a small foundation book. Highlighting the history, the impact we’ve had on the art community. The collection that has been cultivated. We have over 30,000 individual objects of art in the collection. We also have a resource library of over 2000 volumes of books on gay artists and art. We also, have a paper archive of ephemera, artists’ letters, articles. Some of which are truly one of a kind.

For example, there was a person who did research for Mapplethorpe Foundation and he contacted Leslie Lohman where he happened upon an article he hadn’t seen before. In all of his research he found that even the Mapplethorpe Foundation had never seen it before. That was due to the fact that many artists would write under pseudonyms. There is a major treasure trove of history we have amassed and make available for research. Anyone interested, can set up here and research LGBT art.

There seems to be more G than LBT art on hand. Is there any plan to expand the collection to include the broader spectrum that is the community?

Gender balance and representation is a critical focus for us. We have taken on a project to identify non-male as well as ethnic diversity art and artist. Our goal is to increase gender mix by 10% each year until we reach parity.

It is important to note that originally this was a private collection and it continues to evolve over time. Now that we are fully recognized museum we will be able to better represent the community. Once we were very male dominated, now we enjoy full diversity on our board and certainly on our staff. To mark the Museum’s leadership in advocating for gender balance in the Museum’s exhibitions and collection the Board of Trustees has created a Diversity Acquisition Fund.

The fund is designed to increase the number of works by female and transgender artists in the Museum’s collection. Presently 13% of the artists in the Museum’s’ permanent collection is female or transgender. We’re ahead as compared to other museums who sit at about 2%.  With the creation of this fund, the Museum will acquire high quality works to increase that percentage.  Under the direction of the Museum’s Collections Committee, funds donated will be used to purchase work by artists such as these along with many others. Currently the fund has received $40k in donations and pledges. Purchases of art from this fund will be spent for lesbian and transgender art.  This fund is not an endowment, but funds are on a temporary restriction and the fund will remain until it is spent down.

There have been a few changes happening at the Museum lately. To what should we look forward?

In July we received the official State Board of Regents Accreditation. We look forward to celebrating this achievement upon the opening of the new space at some point this winter. We are looking at having an opening with a large exhibit of our permanent collection. We’re looking at a 30-year retrospective. We hope to have a new Director on board. We will be launching our graphic redesign.

We have received some exciting grants. We received a Henry Luce Foundation grant that will enable us to catalogue the collection and an Arcus Foundation grant that will enable us to offer additional educational programming.

For the last three years we have been supported by government grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. These grants have enabled us to offer the Leslie-Lohman Speaker Series. This series is primarily focused on bringing in studio artist to share their thoughts around their impact on culture and create a dialogue between them and the audience.

Designed to enhance and generate critical dialogue between art makers and the general public. Lectures that further the public education about the role of LGBT issues in art making through direct contact with studio artist. 

When are these events happening?

We offer 3 events of the Leslie-Lohman Speaker Series in both the Fall and Spring.
Please see below for dates and times.

Anything else you would like to share about Educational Programming?

The Museum brings a new perspective providing viewers with a personal context and insight into artists as individuals never seen before demonstrating that LGBTQ art exists not in a vacuum but an integral part of the art world. Our educational programming broadens people's humanistic outlook, enriching their understanding of the LGBTQ community, while contributing to the cultural and artistic activity of NYC.

Please share the names of some institutions with whom you collaborate?

We continue to develop our presence and, partnerships with NYC & Company, NYCgo, NGLCCNY and other New York Chamber groups. Outreach includes collaborations with other art and cultural institutions including the Visual AIDS, The Lambda Literary Awards, Callen-Lorde, GMHC, Queer Art Mentorship, Fire Island Artist Residency, Warhol Foundation, New York Historical Society, The Smithsonian, NYU Fales Library, University of Buffalo; The Whitney Museum of American Art, El Museo del Barrio, and Studio Museum of Harlem. Other LGBTQ organizations such as other LGBTQ organizations including, I'm From Driftwood, Trinity Place Shelter, SAGE, Lambda Legal, The Center, and Housing Works.

Leslie Lohman Speakers Series
This series features a minimum of six contemporary artists (3 fall / 3 winter-spring) whose work is significant to today's LGBTQ culture. Our educational programming broadens people's humanistic outlook, enriching their understanding of the LGBTQ community, while contributing to the cultural and artistic activity of NYC. As a curated series, it presents a well-rounded and diverse group of artists that are actively working and impacting the LGBTQ art arena. These lectures are free and open to the public.

Upcoming in this series:

THUR NOV 3 – 6:30
Hunter Reynolds
NY visual artist and AIDS activist. An early member of ACT UP, he fights against homophobia and censorship in the arts. An HIV-positive man whose work address issues of gender identity, political, social, and sexual histories, mourning and loss, survival, hope and healing.

THUR NOV 10 – 6:30
Aaron McIntosh
Quilts, weeds, yellowing wallpaper, firewood, a taxidermy bear and Colonial-Revival couch—my works reach across generational divides through a language of form and material dialect. Probing the images and cultural artifacts from my geographical, familial and domestic background reveals gaps in which I can insert and reconstruct my own complicated narrative as a nerdy Appalachian queer guy.

Wooster Street Window Gallery

Cobi MoulesUntitled (07-02/2011), 2011
Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.
Courtesy the artist and Carroll and Sons Art Gallery, Boston

Self-Portraits: 2009-2015
Cobi Moules
August 14 - November 4, 2016

Through the reflection on and use of traditional portraiture, Cobi Moules creates a space for personal significance and a trans and queer presence. The repetition of the self-­ portrait becomes a way of both documentation as well as aggrandizing singular moments within a larger process of transition. Each portrait, with new physical changes and subtle internal shifts, exists as a singular direct monument within a larger group of time and progression.


Jade Yumang
Weeklies #19.37 (New York City)
from the series "Weeklies," detail, Cut paper, 2012

Cut Ups: Queer Collage Practices
October 14 - December 18, 2016
Opening Reception: October 14, 6-8 pm

Cut-Ups: Queer Collage Practices brings together works by an intergenerational group of fourteen queer and feminist artists who each explore collage with diverse, erotically inclined tactics. The works in this show draw from print culture and pornography, dating from the era of gay and women's liberation to the present. While collage has typically been understood through the lens of modernism and the historical avant-garde or through postmodernism and pastiche, Cut-Ups does not call on these frameworks. Rather, this exhibition presents collages- whether discovered in the archives or coming out of contemporary art practices-that demonstrate pornographic inspirations and world-making ambitions.


Mighty Tony
Opening Reception: Friday, October 21, 6-8 pm
Exhibition Dates: October 22-23, 12-6 pm

My work is a blend of gay erotica, reference to 19th century painting, and to the cheap animation of my youth. Using an adventure strip illustration style, I explore the objectification of the male body in various situations of distress. The work is a reflection of Tony's own body image issues, fear of rejection, and other anxieties as a gay man mixed with eroticism and a frank in your face aggressiveness in subject matter.

Rebecca Levi, Flower Beard Blue Mohawk 2016
Thread on cotton fabric 8x8 in.
Courtesy the artist

Tumble and Bloom, Rebecca Levi
Opening Reception: Friday, November 4, 6-8 pm
Exhibition Dates: November 5-6, 12-6 pm

Tumble and Bloom explores expressions of modern masculine and gender non-conforming performativity through the traditional medium of embroidery. Levi both celebrates and challenges the association of “women’s work” with thread-based craft, creating meticulously sewn portraits of queer bodies, as in the series #100tumblrbearscantbewrong. Using botanical motifs in her colorful flower beards, Levi playfully subverts gender signifiers, such as facial and body hair, and embraces multifaceted, shifting, and emerging identities.

Rebecca Levi is a NYC born and based artist. Her work has appeared in Queer Threads, which originated at the Leslie-Lohman Museum before traveling to other venues, and Stitch Fetish at The Hive Gallery in Los Angeles. Solo shows include those at the Bureau of General Services in New York and the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vermont. Her embroidery was also featured in the Visual AIDS Play Smart series.

To learn more about the Museum, they have provided us with the most Frequently Asked Questions.

Does the Museum appraise art?
No. The museum staff are not official appraisers. If you need an appraiser we can suggest one. You may also wish to contact the Appraisers Association of America to get more information on certain types of appraisals.

Can I donate art or money to the Museum?
Yes. The Museum appreciates donations of art to its collection. We also appreciate cash contributions. Please see … GET INVOLVED: SUPPORT

Can I become a member of the Museum?
Yes. You can become a member and receive numerous desirable benefits.

Can I submit a proposal for an Exhibition?
Yes. The Leslie-Lohman Museum uses a Guest Curator model meaning that all exhibitions are designed by Guest Curators. If you would like to be a Guest Curator, download a request for proposal here, Guest Curatorial Proposal Guidelines, and submit it to us as outlined in the attachment.

Can I become a volunteer or intern at the Museum?
Yes. The Museum relies heavily on volunteers and interns.

Can I leave art to the Museum in my will or estate plan?
Yes. Estate planning is a perfect way to ensure that the work of the Museum continues for decades to come. Please contact us about the appropriate language to include in your will or trust, or to set up a planned gift during your lifetime.

Do you provide grants to individuals or organizations?

For special inquiries or information on renting the space for a group, employee ERG, or become involved as a corporate sponsor, connect with nglccNY Ambassador Jerry Kajpust, Deputy Director for External Relations at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. at

The Museum is open Tuesday - Sunday, 12-6 pm, and Thursdays 12-8 pm. Admission is always free.

Stay connected with the World’s only Gay & Lesbian Museum:

Written by Ingrid Galvez,
Chair, Diversity & Inclusion, NGLCCNY
Organizational Development Consultant, Strategic Remedy Group

Intersted in being featured? Please contact me at

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